What’s Inside your Letter – Some Thoughts on Letter Stuffing and Proper Handling

The very first “letter stuffing” I made was a little heart (about the size of a dollar coin) made of bread dough clay. This was way back in high school, when I was very much into sewing and drawing. I found the recipe in one of my craft books and thought it might be fun to try something different.

Making bread dough clay is very easy: just mix bread, water, and tacky glue. Mash and knead until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands. Once dry, anything you form from it can be coated with clear nail polish or sealant (such as spray varnish) for protection.

I remember making a batch of those bread dough hearts for Valentine’s Day. The heart is attached to a length of pink satin ribbon. The friends I gave those hearts to liked the token. So encouraged, I made another batch for mailing.

I was already into writing and sending letters at the time. Not knowing any better, I thought sending those hearts was as easy as slipping them inside an envelope along with a card. No so.

I didn’t realize a letter goes through so much “punishment!” By the time one of my friends received her Valentine’s Day card along with the heart, it was crushed. She was crushed and, well, so was I. I put my heart (pun not intended) into making those hearts!

Quickly thereafter, I learned that you have to choose the kind of stuffing you’ll put inside your letter.
• What material is it made of? I’ve sent beaded bookmarkers and handmade door charms to friends. The door charm is pretty tough in itself, but it can ‘pierce’ the envelope you slipped it in if not packed properly.
• What about weight? How light or heavy is it? Please remember that the heavier your letter stuffing, the more expensive your mail will cost.
• Consider the distance. Fragile items have to be packed well.
• Think about the packing material you’ll use. It need not be expensive. In recent years, I simply re-use the plastic covering that many greeting cards come in. When I receive gifts swathed in sheets of tissue paper, and the latter is not torn and still in good condition, I re-purpose them as packing material. I’ve also begun stocking up on padded envelopes, those with special bubble wrapping inside.

Putting stuff inside letters is fun! I wish I can take a photo of the expressions of friends who receive surprises in their letterboxes. But I have my share of misadventures, too. One time, I sent a batch of letters with door charms in them to a select group of friends. All but one received hers. We waited, chalking up the delay to a weeklong government holiday. Lesson: be aware of the risks of sending letters with stuff inside.

Having just narrated all these, it occurred to me how a friend’s letter stuffing from Tokyo – a small, decorative bottle – arrived at my letterbox intact. Anyway . . .

How about you? What letter stuffing have you sent and for what occasion was it?

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